Sure, there have been a few blips during the last 12 months when we thought, "Hey, Jose Reyes might actually stay with the Mets." But we usually snapped back to our senses quickly, and now, once he passes a physical, Reyes will be a Marlin.
Here's my take, in which I contend that the Mets' recent history of incompetence failed to give them the benefit of the doubt on this decision - which I happen to think is a good baseball decision.
What else do we got on this? Let's itemize:
1. Here's one point I've heard a lot lately: "A big-market team like the Mets is supposed to retain its star players. It's supposed to have the money."
Well, yeah, on the second point, and I'm certainly not going to sit here and vouch for the Mets' financial stability. As I noted in the column, Sandy Alderson bristled when Bernie Madoff's name came up. Sorry, Sandy, but that comes with the job. A Madoff question will be fair game, still, for a long time.
But I digress. Let's imagine that Madoff never happened. Are the Mets "supposed" to retain Reyes, just because of their market size?
Gosh, I really don't think so. As I've noted before, the Mets were "supposed" to retain Mike Piazza and the Yankees Bernie Williams, both following the 1998 season, and while both signings looked great in the early years, living through the final three years proved torturous. Sure, now you say that you'll take that tradeoff, but people weren't saying that from 2003 through 2005.
The Red Sox, meanwhile, ignored the conventional wisdom of what they were "supposed" to do, and they won the 2007 World Series as Pedro Martinez (Mets) and Johnny Damon (Yankees) were getting overpaid in New York.
So no, I don't think it's terrible that the Mets let Reyes go. But as I wrote in the column, I very much understand why they still don't have the benefit of the doubt.
2. Alderson, whom I've never seen anywhere this testy since joining the Mets, also didn't like a fair question about the Mets' chances for 2012. Citing the 2011 Diamondbacks and, in a different sense, the Cardinals - the Diamondbacks defied season-long expectations, while the Cardinals came back after looking like they were done in August - he said, "We're not conceding everything for 2012."
The words probably come off as silly. By the time the dust clears this winter, the Mets should look like the worst team in the NL East.
In practicality, though, I'm not sure what Alderson would do differently, even if he did fully surrender '12.
Should he trade David Wright? He'd be selling low, with Wright coming off his worst carreer season. Sure, there's the chance that Wright doesn't get better and his back problem re-emerges, but that's a risk I'd be willing to take.
Should he trade Angel Pagan and/or Mike Pelfrey? Sure, if good returns are out there. If not? Then same deal as Wright: Bring them back and see if they can build up their trade value.
My early hunch, as I mentioned in the column, is that the Mets won't be as awful as we're envisioning right now. If you look at their offensive split from 2011, you'll see that yeah, their offensive efficiency did go down in the second half - after Carlos Beltran had been traded and after Reyes got hurt - but not as dramatically (on the OBP side, at least) as you might think.
With a veteran closer, and if Ruben Tejada can maintain his potential as a shortstop who gets on base at a respectable rate and covers ground and shortstop...well, shoot, I still don't see how they even sniff a playoff race. They could sniff .500, though. Or they could sell high in July on Wright, Pelfrey and Pagan, plus a veteran closer/setup man signed to a reasonable contract, and fully commit to rebuilding at that point.
And as I wrote in the column, yes, Alderson should've traded Reyes last July. That would've sped up the retooling, or whatever you want to call it.
3. The Marlins are one big signing away from winning this winter's "Drunken Sailor" award. If they actually sign Albert Pujols, then we'll have to reassess. Right now, though? Props for actually spending money after all these years of frugal behavior, and maybe Josh Johnson will be healthy and Hanley Ramirez will embrace playing third base and they'll make the playoffs.
I can definitely envision a scenario, however, in which Ramirez is unhappy, Reyes is hurt, Johnson can't regain his ace form and new skipper Ozzie Guillen is torching everyone within 100 miles of South Beach.
--A name to remember for the Yankees, as Erik Boland writes, is Hiroki Kuroda, whom the Yankees always have liked and who - after the Dodgers kicked him to the curb by signing former Met Chris Capuano - is apparently open to playing elsewhere.
If you look at Kuroda's FanGraphs page, you'll see that many of his peripherals - his groundball rate, his home-run rate, his FIP - trended the wrong way. And the Yankees would be asking Kuroda to transition from the country-club lifestyle of the NL West to the pressure chamber of the AL East.
The Yankees are a stats-savvy organization, so you wonder how much hesitation they'd have on this one.
--Manny Ramirez has been cleared for a comeback, with his 100-game suspension shortened to 50 games. Awfully generous of MLB. They reasoned that, hey, Ramirez "served" a suspension of about 150 games last year, when he retired upon his second penalty in the illegal PED testing program.
I say, he didn't serve anything. He quit on his team and took an extended vacation.
In any case, what we're looking at here, in all likelihood, is this scenario: A) An interested team signs Ramirez to a minor-league contract; B) Ramirez shows enough in spring training that the team says, "OK, we'll put you on our 40-man roster and pay you $500,000 plus incentives; C) Ramirez disappears for two months; D) he joins the team on around Memorial Day.
That's the optimal scenario for Manny. The other scenario is that he looks as bad as he did in his very brief run last year and gets released, and we never hear from him again.
--What else? Not much else. Many team officials don't even arrive until today. The Astros, under interim general manager Dave Gottfried, will try to trade Wandy Rodriguez, Carlos Lee and Brett Myers. Rodriguez could get moved; we know that Colorado likes him. Lee actually is coming off a good season, but his $19 million salary for 2012 ensures that, if Houston actually wants to move him, it'll have to include significant monies.
Myers? A year ago, yeah, he'd have value out there. Coming off a terrible 2011, not so much.
--I'll check in later.